Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on August 13, 2014 · 15 comments

It’s time again for Non-Consumer Mish-Mash, where I write a little bit about this and a little bit about that.

Life Factory water bottleBPA-Free is Not Enough

I don’t like drinking from plastic, even when it’s BPA-Free, and a recent study profiled in Scientific American confirms that I am correct to be skeptical.

“In 2012 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of baby bottles that contain bisphenol A (BPA), a compound frequently found in plastics. The ban came after manufacturers’ responded to consumer concerns of BPA’s safety after several studies found the chemical mimics estrogen and could harm brain and reproductive development in fetuses, infants and children.* Since then store shelves have been lined with BPA-free bottles for babies and adults alike. Yet, recent research reveals that a common BPA replacement, bisphenol S (BPS), may be just as harmful.”

It makes me even happier that I recently scored a Life Factory water bottle from Goodwill. (And not just because it was $2.99 instead of $19.99.)

Dropping Balls Left and Right

I’m apparently unable to be on top of every category of my life. Work, family, housekeeper, if I’m excelling in one area I’ll let the balls drop in another. (You may have noticed how the blog has been a bit dormant lately.)

We just finished hosting my 14-year-old nephew for two weeks. Each and every day he got to be part of some fun activity and the whole family really enjoyed his company and the break from our normal humdrum activities. However, the house fell into impressive grubbiness and I screwed up my work schedule, which I won’t go into as it gives me an anxiety attack to think about.

I know there are people out there who excel at being able to keep their balls up in the air, and I marvel at their skills.

I do feel proud of all the great stuff we did while my nephew was in town:

  • Day trip to Mt. Hood.
  • Day trip to to the beach.
  • Attended three soccer games. The Portland Timbers, The Portland Thorns and the MLS All-Star Game.
  • Afternoon spent at Oaks Amusement Park.
  • Afternoon spent at Avalon arcade.
  • Downtown adventure day including tram ride, haircuts and food cart falafel.
  • Three get togethers with my nephew’s other Portland friend, which included Guardians of The Galaxy.
  • Multiple get togethers with grandparents.
  • An afternoon at the pool.

However, I want to take a fire hose to the house and I’m scared to write a to-do list as I know it will crush me.

Simple Living? Ha!

Decluttering 

It never ends. That is all. Seriously.

 

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 15 comments }

American families are in the thick of back-to-school season. With page long school supply lists and an expectation from retailers to buy an entirely new wardrobe for the kids.

Why?

Did every piece of clothing disappear into a puff of smoke on August 31st? Did last year’s scissors suddenly become non-functional on the last day of school?

I do have fond memories of being taken back-to-school shopping when I was a kid. We’d go to JCPenny to buy knockoffs of whatever shoes were popular that year. Famolares in 1977 and Nikes in 1981. And that was the pair of shoes for the year. One pair to replace the Newberry’s sandals we’d destroyed over the summer.

I choose to do things differently.

Although my kids are 16 and 18 and therefor take their own selves shopping now, it wasn’t that long ago that I was in charge of the task. But since I follow The Compact and only buy used, buying everything all at once just isn’t possible. Clothing needs to be bought when it’s found. A great pair of jeans here, the perfect jacket there.

Yes, we’re all being inundated with back-to-school clothing ads right now, but that shouldn’t matter. I don’t exactly buy a new mattress every Memorial Day and a big screen TV the week before Super Bowl. I’m a critical thinker and hope I’m able to cut through advertising pressure to make my own purchasing decisions.

Breathe, Katy. Breathe . . . .

If you are choosing to buy a new wardrobe for your kids’ back-to-school, I encourage you to think outside the mall and hit up area thrift shops, consignment shops and garage sales. Buying new mostly supports a garment industry that irresponsibly produces poor quality clothing in unsafe factories staffed by shamefully paid workers. Profits go to overpaid upper management and I would rather support a non-profit thrift shop any day of the week.

So please give the secondhand market a chance and bypass the mall.

It’s just so much better.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 23 comments }

Summertime

by Katy on August 6, 2014 · 9 comments

Summertime . . .

Laundry on the clothesline, pool schedule memorized, up all hours and sleeping too late.

Midnight projects, last minute barbecues and window fans.

A pile of half-finished library books and endless jugs of refrigerator water.

Turning a blind eye to back-to-school sales.

Why does it have to end?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 9 comments }

I know you’re probably sick to death of reading about my $20 campaign dresser project, but that’s too bad because it continues to be part of my daily life. I’d already sanded and primed the dresser, (as well as removed the brass hardware and given myself carpal tunnel syndrome from all the polishing.)

But I didn’t have any paint yet.

My first choice for painting something is to dig through my basement stash, but I neither had anything bright and fun or austere and stately enough to pique my interest. So I looked up the location of the new Habitat for Humanity ReStore here in Portland and headed on over.

But not before snapping a selfie of myself in front of the store:

Habitat ReStore Selfie

Yes I get stared at when I do things like take selfies in front of businesses; and no, I do not care.

I walked into the spaciously clean and bright store and was immediately confronted by this $2500 behemoth:

Carved guy

It’s the sexy monk of the antique furniture world.

However, I was there for paint, so I headed over to the paint section. Sadly, there’s much much less inventory than at their old store. I was tempted by this $1 can of light chartreuse paint:

$1 Habitat paint

I could totally see how great the dresser would look in this bright color, unfortunately it would grossly clash with our terra cotta colored bedroom. A Barnum & Bailey’s look if there ever was one, and clown bedroom is not the aesthetic I’m striving for.

I ended up buying this $2 jug of charcoal grey paint that was 4/4 full. (All paint is labeled this way, as the paint cans have already been used.)

Charcoal paint

Paint decision having been made, I decided to browse the store. Of course, I had to go play in the lighting department and imagine the great DIY opportunities.

I need you to imagine how awesome these groovy vintage rattan shades would look spray painted turquoise or apple green:

Kitchen shades

And this vintage wood and brass chandelier? It took every ounce of my self discipline to not bring it home. Do you see the leaf detail? I can totally envision it painted either a lovely creme color or some wonderfully saturated hue. And instead of glass shades, use small round bulbs.

Please, some Portlander, go buy this chandelier right now!

Vintage chandelier

Speaking of stuff that I wanted to buy for my imaginary hipster apartment, I present to you this vintage sideboard:

Vintage sideboard

Drool . . .

Luckily there was enough godawful stuff to temper my neediness. Hello . . .  sloppily painted stool!

Stool sample

And this painting?

Strawberry lady

Too bad I already have a painting over my mantle of a women being born from a strawberry who is displaying her uneven man hands while looking off to the side.

Plus, it’s such a clichéd look.

Not everything at the Habitat ReStore is for those with funky taste though. Check out these gorgeous glass pendants, are they not what every stainless steel appliance and granite countertop kitchen is missing?

Glass pendants

I did just buy the $2 paint and have already completed two coats, and it’s looking rather perfect. Even my husband, who thought we should just leave the dresser as-is, complimented me saying it looked “very modern.”

Just imagine how much he would have loved that painting.

Do you get your home maintenance supplies from alternative sources before hitting up Home Depot? Whether it’s putting the word out on Facebook, cruising the Restore or simply rethinking a project, used supplies will save you money and help the environment.

And what’s not to love about that?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 25 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on August 1, 2014 · 9 comments

Benson Bubbler

Today I Am . . . 

  • Sanding and priming my $20 thrifted campaign dresser. Then, I’ll go to the Habitat For Humanity ReStore to shop for paint. I was leaning towards painting the dresser a tasteful black since my bedroom is a terra cotta color, but I say f*¢& it, I want something bright and fun!
  • Continuing to be impressed by all the amazing free and almost-free projects that Megan from Upstyler comes up with. This week she took the wooden handle from a broke-ass umbrella and turned it into a very cool looking wall hook. (This is my favorite new blog, and I highly recommend it!)
  • Pleased with yesterday’s Downtown Adventure Day that I organized with my son and nephew. We took the bus downtown, walked around, took the streetcar to the tram, rode the tram to the top and back, ate delicious food cart falafel and then got cheap and fantastic haircuts from Quinn at Barber-Q. Haircuts needed to happen anyway, so we might as well plan an adventure day around them!
  • Planning tonight’s dinner of homemade sushi. The kids can assemble them, and it’s the perfect meal for a hot summer evening that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. (I make rice in the steamy hot rice cooker which only needs an electrical outlet, so I can set it up on the porch instead of the kitchen.)
  • Enjoying the nice paycheck that comes with working five shifts in a pay period. Damn, that’s a lot of money!
  • Pleased with the city of Portland with its outdoor Benson Bubbler drinking fountains all over downtown, which makes it unnecessary to carry a heavy water bottle, even in the height of summer.
  • Happy that even though my younger son has a haircut that requires frequent trims, the rest of us balance it out. I cut my husband’s hair, my older son wears his hair long and I forget to get haircuts and haven’t had one for at least a year and a half!

Now your turn. What are you doing today?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 9 comments }

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

100 Dollar Bill

I had the privilege of taking my aunt Anne out for breakfast today. It was her birthday, (which I had actually forgotten about) which made it all the more special. Our original plan had been to go out for dim-sum, but we ended up finding a wonderful little café not far from my house which hit the spot.

This aunt is actually only 15 years older than I am and lived with us for a few years when I was growing up. She has always been a true inspiration to me — gleaning fabulous treasures from thrift shops and taking me and my sister to musty old used book stores when we were at our most impressionable ages. (The smell of old books still arouses an overwhelming feeling of contentment for me.)

She is smart, funny and generous beyond a fault despite never having excessive income.

Sadly, she now lives in Florida, which means that I hardly ever get to spend any time with her.

On our way back from breakfast, (plus a couple of garage sales) she started talking about what she would do if she won the lottery. I can’t actually remember what she said she would buy for herself, but she did say that she would give us each $11,000 per year. She said this is the amount one can receive annually without having to pay taxes on it.

I started to think about what I would do with an extra $44,000 annual income, (yes, she said she would give $11,000 to each of us!)

I would most definitely eradicate any and all consumer debt, but then what? Travel? Charitable giving? Cool clothes? Savings?

What would you do with an extra $100, $1000 or $10,000?

Here, I’ll start:

$100 — I would put it in savings. (There’s nothing for $100 or less that I don’t already have.)

$1,000 — I would pay off debt.

$10,000 — I would travel with my kids to somewhere like London, Japan or Greece. Perhaps somewhere sunny like Hawaii or Mexico, (which would be cheaper and allow for leftover funds.)

Okay now, your turn! Please put your answers in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 35 comments }

Happiness is Found in Little Things

Five Things That Make Me Happy:

  1. My 14-year-old nephew is visiting us from New York for the next two weeks. Not only does he have two sets of Portland grandparents, but he’s one of my younger son’s best friends. I anticipate much fun and many shenanigans.
  2. My house sits on a city street paved with large bumpy stones inset in the cement (concrete?) and it’s on an official bike route. This means that all day I hear children yelling “Ahhh . . . ” in order to make their voices shake. Every child does it and it’s a wonderful sound.
  3. I spent a few hours helping my mother and step-father rearrange a room in their house which involved moving of insanely heavy furniture and a foray out to buy a twin sized mattress. As payment, I told my mother I would be usurping a throw pillow that I’d been eyeing over the past few years. Luckily, she approved my plan and I now own a vintage needlepointed pillow that reads, “Happiness is Found in Little Things.”
  4. Whenever my DVR randomly catches an episode of a program that I hadn’t realized was starting up or in reruns. Recent examples? “Till Debt Do Us Part” and “Project Runway.”
  5. The health and wellness of my family. I see enough in my job as an RN to appreciate how very lucky we are.

One thing that’s pissing me off:

  1. I soaked my brass campaign dresser drawer pulls in a ketchup water solution to help shine them up. I first tested the brass with a magnet to make sure they weren’t brass plated and thought I was safe. Unfortunately, I discovered that although the back pieces are solid brass, the handles pieces were plated, which meant some of the plating came off with my too-frugal-for-my-own-good trickery. Crap.

Now your turn. What’s making you happy, and conversely what’s pissing you off?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 18 comments }

Today I Am . . .

by Katy on July 25, 2014 · 15 comments

Campaign dresser drawer pulls

Today I Am . . .

  • Gazing at my Pinterest board that is all about painted campaign dressers. So pretty!
  • Pleased that rather foul Trader Joe’s peppermint toothpaste works well to polish up the brass hardware on my campaign dresser.
  • Wishing that my feet didn’t hurt so much after a 12-hour hospital shift.
  • Encouraging a certain jet-lagged boy to get out of bed and transition back to Portland time. Even if that does mean losing out on 4 A.M. chats with friends in Japan.
  • Proud of my husband, who just received a promotion at work.
  • Happy that my neighbors are pickier than I am with their outdoor planters. (They put out one concrete planter because it was chipped a few months ago, and just put out its match the other night. Needless to say, both planters now reside in my garden. I have plans to fill both with bamboo which will shade the south side of my porch without invading the rest of the yard.)
  • Happy to have my son home after his month in Japan. He kicks a soccer ball in the house all the time, talks non-stop and I love every noisy and disruptive bit of him!
  • Pleased to share my Five Frugal Things blog format with my pal Kristen from The Frugal Girl. It’s a perfect way to share frugal activities that don’t quite warrant their own blog post.
  • Annoyed with how many e-mails I need to address. They’re all sitting in my inbox just waiting for me to be in the mood to deal with them. Needless to say, I simply need to get on that irregardless of my mood.
  • Off to take laundry off the clothesline that’s been wetting and drying over the past few rainy days.

 

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 15 comments }

Campaigning For a Project

by Katy on July 24, 2014 · 22 comments

Campaign dresser

 

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a low dresser over the past few years. I wanted something cheap, sturdy and within my design aesthetic. The plan is to put our bedroom TV on the dresser and then banish the rolling metro shelving unit that the TV current sits on.

At this point you may be wondering why we need a TV in the bedroom at all, but I think you need to understand that some people in my marriage like to watch international soccer games on TV, while other people in my marriage like watching old episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

I’ll you guess which is which.

I’d already turned down this mid-century dresser, as the top was a plastic laminate, (meh) and hadn’t seen anything since then that piqued my interest.

But the above vintage solid wood/dovetail drawered campaign dresser was priced at only $20, so I bit the bullet and brought it home. It wasn’t an immediate decision, as I just finished ridding my house of a buttload of unnecessary stuff, but an hour or so of doing image searches of painted campaign dressers put me into a frenzy. (I even put together a Pinterest board of nothing but painted campaign dressers!)

I worried that the dresser would be sold by the time I made it back to Goodwill this morning, (I’d seen it last night) but luck was on my side and I was happy to fork over the twenty smackeroos!

My plan is to paint it a glossy black color and then shine the hell out of the solid brass hardware. There’s a single drawer that needs to be re-glued, but it’s a small job. And for those who wonder why I don’t keep the original wood finish, I need to explain that the wood has those horrible teeny splatters of dark stain to look faux antique. (The dresser is from 1974.)

Blegh.

I think I should be able to start on this project within the next few weeks, and I’ll keep you updated.

I know it’s inherent in this blog post, but I need to hammer home that low cost/high quality used stuff will always win over the low quality/high cost of a newly manufactured item. Buying used gives us the option to outfit our homes with quality items without spending too much, and most importantly without supporting environmentally irresponsible factories with questionable worker practices.

Take that, Wal-Mart!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 22 comments }

Found Change Challenge

We are a few weeks past the official halfway mark for 2014, so I present a better-late-than-never update on the Found Change Challenge.

Without further ado, I proudly announce that despite having found only one piece of folding money, (a single dollar bill) I’ve found $26.115 so far this year!

It was quarter by quarter, penny by penny.

At this point, you may be asking yourself how I found a half a cent, to which present exhibit A:

Half penny

It seems that almost every time I venture out into the world I come across at least one penny, and I wonder about the people who walk by these very obvious coins. It’s free money, people!

Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.

Are you participating in the Non-Consumer Advocate’s Found Change Challenge? It’s never too late to join!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 18 comments }